On 24th July 2014, the DfT announced that from early 2015 (date to be announced) the speed limits for HGV’s on single carriageways in England and Wales will increase from 40mph to 50mph. Goods vehicles in the 7.5+ sector are restricted to 40mph.
This will be welcomed by many operators in areas not well served by dual carriageways, such as East Anglia, where there are located many wide single carriageways where HGV’s are currently restricted to 40mph. A DfT consultation previously sought views about this and highlighted the frustration caused by such a limit creating road risks and the extent to which the 40mph limit was simply an anachronism.
In addition to this change, the DfT has also announced a consultation relating to a potential increase in the speed limit for heavy goods vehicles over 7.5 tonnes on dual carriageways. HGV’s are currently restricted to 50 mph, a limit honoured by many drivers in the breach rather than the observance! The proposal is to increase the speed limit on HGV’s for vehicles over 7.5 tonnes from 50 to 60mph. The Government recognises that the current speed limit is breached by about 80% of HGV drivers and it is impractical to enforce it. The DfT does not consider that this proposed speed limit change would make any material difference in the actual speeds currently driven. Interestingly, 53mph is the average speed observed for HGV in free flow conditions on motorways. The consultation closes on 5th September 2014. If this proposal is implemented then it appears likely that it will coincide with the introduction of the single carriageway speed increase for 7.5 tonne vehicles from 40 to 50mph.